Graham Dwyer and Elaine O’Hara relationship involved sadism, court hears

‘Blood turns me on and I’d like to stab a girl to death sometime,’ accused allegedly text

Graham Dwyer (42) is charged with murdering Elaine O’Hara (36), in Co Dublin on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.  Photograph: Collins Courts

Graham Dwyer (42) is charged with murdering Elaine O’Hara (36), in Co Dublin on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty. Photograph: Collins Courts


The relationship between murder accused Graham Dwyer and his alleged victim was one of bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, a jury at the Central Criminal Court has been told.

Seán Guerin SC, for the prosecution, told the jury text messages on phones believed to belong to Elaine O’Hara and the defendant would show how over the course of time Mr Dwyer “elaborated carefully and thoughtfully about a range of ideas of how he could kill a woman and get away with it”.

Mr Dwyer (42), a south Dublin architect, is charged with murdering Elaine O’Hara (36), a childcare worker, in Co Dublin on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Guerin said of 400 exhibits he would produce for the case, he would focus attention particularly on eight.

These included two phones belonging to Ms O’Hara, one old and one in use at the time of her death; her laptop; two phones found in the Vartry reservoir; a rucksack; the CCTV footage from Belarmine, where Ms O’Hara lived; and a mattress from her bed with DNA evidence,

He said there was evidence from the phones, which included one with an 083 number believed to be Mr Dwyer’s, to prove contact between the accused and Ms O’Hara and to prove their “unusual” sexual relationship.

He said it featured acts of stabbing committed by Mr Dwyer on Ms O’Hara.

Mr Dwyer had a “deep-seated and passionately held desire to get sexual gratification by stabbing women”, he said.

In one text allegedly sent by Mr Dwyer, he told Ms O’Hara he was a sadist.

“I enjoy others’ pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasies,” it said.

“I want to stick my knife in flesh while I’m sexually aroused and see the pain. Blood turns me on and I’d like to stab a girl to death sometime.”

Ms O’Hara had a preference for a submissive relationship, Mr Guerin said, which included restraint, being tied up and allowing herself to be punished by another person.

At one point, Ms O’Hara sent a message saying: “I’m not into blood any more.” But, Mr Guerin said, it was clear she allowed herself to be used in that way by Mr Dwyer and he did on occasion stab her.

It was also clear from the texts that she was trying to find someone else with tastes more closely aligned to her own, but there was never anyone who was a permanent feature in her life, he said.


Psychiatric difficulties

Mr Guerin alleged the way Mr Dwyer related to Ms O’Hara was complicated by her psychiatric difficulties “which he knew full well”. There had been some discussion that if Ms O’Hara was suicidal, she “might allow herself to be stabbed to death by Mr Dwyer”, he said.

Mr Guerin highlighted a message dated April 11th, 2011 from the 083 number: “If you ever want to die, promise me I can do it.”

The response to this was: “Yes, I promise, sir.”

Mr Guerin told the jury “sir” was a feature of Ms O’Hara’s submission.

In early May 2011, Mr Guerin said texts mentioned a visit by Ms O’Hara to a psychiatrist and she said she was “unfortunately not suicidal”.

The responding text said he was available to help in any way, including “the end”.

“I have everything ready if it all becomes too much . . . just think all your worries gone,” it said.

After an exam Ms O’Hara texted she was tired and the response was that he could put her to sleep, Mr Guerin said. “I know you want it . . . 30 seconds to slip into oblivion,” it read.

Mr Guerin told the jurors the relationship was very manipulative and abusive. He alleged Mr Dwyer groomed Ms O’Hara to normalise the idea of stabbing and blood loss.

He said Mr Dwyer told Ms O’Hara it was her duty to help him. One text said the “urge to rape and stab” was “huge” and she had to help him to “control the urge or satisfy it”.

After a news report about a woman being stabbed, Mr Dwyer allegedly texted he would have loved to have been the one knifing the woman.

“It must have been a fantastic feeling for him, lucky guy,” the message said.

He also tried to put the responsibility on Ms O’Hara, Mr Guerin said. One text said: “It is your fault I want to kill and you won’t let me stab you.”

He asked her to identify targets and got her to do research for him, the jury was told. “I’m looking forward to seeing your research on finding me a victim.”

After some months, Ms O’Hara began to resist, Mr Guerin said.

In July 2011, a text said: “I don’t want you to stab me any more.”

In another text in August that year, Ms O’Hara messaged that if she was ever to find anyone and have children, she needed “to be free of stabs, unless you wanted to give me a child, sir”.

Mr Guerin alleged Mr Dwyer offered to father a child and he suggested a couple of weeks later that she take folic acid and visit her GP. She changed her mind a few days later. She said it would be better to have a child in a relationship, but it was hard to get one when she was “marked with so many stab wounds”.



Mr Dwyer then turned to insulting her, calling her old, fat and disobedient, Mr Guerin said.

From October 2011, the relationship became less intense and, while contact continued, there were fewer texts. Mr Guerin said there was CCTV footage of Mr Dwyer visiting Belarmine on a few occasions in 2012.

They were in contact while Ms O’Hara was in hospital, he said, and there were texts in which Mr Dwyer asked: “If anything happened to you, who knows me?” She said no one did.

On August 17th, a text message read that Mr Dwyer had taken a “huge walk” up the mountains and there were plenty of “lonely hill walkers”, Mr Guerin said.

He needed to find a route back with no cameras, it said. “I’m very excited.”

The messages also outlined ways of killing someone, Mr Guerin said, including how they could go into the woods, he could take her clothes off, stab her and bury her and leave her clothes in her car near the sea and it would look like suicide.

Another message read that all Ms O’Hara had to do was tell him she wanted out and then get into bed and wait for him. She responded to “forget about it for now”, Mr Guerin said.

There were texts saying she was due a big punishment, and she would be bound and gagged and tied to a tree deep in the forest. She would do what she was told or she would be “double punished”.

In a text on August 22nd, she asked for a favour, Mr Guerin said. “Please don’t mention killing for a while,” she texted.

Mr Guerin said Mr Dwyer agreed, but said that night’s punishment would be like him pretending to “do someone for real, OK?”

Mr Guerin said Mr Dwyer instructed Ms O’Hara to park at Shanganagh Cemetery at 5.30pm and bring her “slave phone” and keys only.

She was also instructed to cross the railway bridge near the steps to the sea.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Anthony Hunt.